(Ages 21/2 to 6 years, PreK through Kindergarten)
The Montessori Method
The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds by following the natural development of the child. Its flexibility provides a matrix within which each individual child's inner directives freely guide the child toward wholesome growth. Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work. The children's innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration and joyful self-discipline. Within a framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities.
The Prepared Environment
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work.
The prepared environment offers the essential elements for optimal development. The key components comprise the children, teacher and physical surroundings including the specifically designed Montessori educational material.
Characteristics of the prepared environment include:
- Children must be given freedom to work and move around within suitable guidelines that enable them to act as part of a social group.
- Children should be provided with specifically designed materials which help them to explore their world and enable them to develop essential cognitive skills.
- Mixed age groups (eg. three to six, six to nine, nine to twelve) encourage all children to develop their personalities socially and intellectually at their own pace.
The Montessori Teacher
The role of a Montessori teacher is that of an observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher creates an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner discipline. With the younger students at each level, the teacher is more active, demonstrating the use of materials and presenting activities based on an assessment of the child's requirements. Knowing how to observe constructively and when, and how much, to intervene, is one of the most important talents the Montessori teacher acquires during a rigorous course of training at AMI training centres throughout the world.
The Primary Classroom
Children of this age possess what Dr. Montessori called the Absorbent Mind. This type of mind has the unique and transitory ability to absorb all aspects physical, mental, spiritual of the environment, without effort or fatigue. As an aid to the child's self-construction, individual work is encouraged. The following areas of activity cultivate the children's ability to express themselves and think with clarity.
Practical Life exercises instill care for themselves, for others, and for the environment. The activities include many of the tasks children see as part of the daily life in their home washing and ironing, doing the dishes, arranging flowers, etc. Elements of human conviviality are introduced with the exercises of grace and courtesy. Through these and other activities, children develop muscular coordination, enabling movement and the exploration of their surroundings. They learn to work at a task from beginning to end, and develop their will (defined by Dr. Montessori as the intelligent direction of movement), their self-discipline and their capacity for total concentration.
Sensorial Materials are tools for development. Children build cognitive efficacy, and learn to order and classify impressions. They do this by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment through the mediation of specially-designed materials.
Language is vital to human existence. The Montessori environment provides rich and precise language.
'When the children come into the classroom at around three years of age, they are given in the simplest way possible the opportunity to enrich the language they have acquired during their small lifetime and to use it intelligently, with precision and beauty, becoming aware of its properties not by being taught, but by being allowed to discover and explore these properties themselves. If not harassed, they will learn to write, and as a natural consequence to read, never remembering the day they could not write or read in the same way that they do not remember that once upon a time they could not walk.' -- Maria Montessori
The mathematics materials help the child learn and understand mathematical concepts by working with concrete materials. This work provides the child with solid underpinnings for traditional mathematical principles, providing a structured scope for abstract reasoning.
Geography, History, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music are presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about other cultures past and present, and this allows their innate respect and love for their environment to flourish, creating a sense of solidarity with the global human family and its habitat. Experiences with nature in conjunction with the materials in the environment inspire a reverence for all life. History is presented to the children through art and an intelligent music programme.
(From Association Montessori Internationale)
At Divinum Auxilium Academy, the children in the Primary class experience the full integration of catechesis and academics using this beautiful method under the trained guidance of an AMI (Association Montessori International) and CGS (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) certified directress.
Children between the ages of 21/2 and 41/2 years are invited to enroll in the half-day program, which meets Monday through Thursday mornings only. Children between the ages of 4 1/2 and 6 years are invited to enroll in the half-day program as well, but have the further option of enrolling in the full day program, which spans a communal lunch period and additional academics into the early afternoon. Children completing their Kindergarten year are highly encouraged to take advantage of this additional concentration in the areas of Language, Mathematics and Cultural Extensions offered during the afternoon session.
All of the children in the Primary class take part in the academy's Farm and Garden program. They are active participants in the starting, growing and cultivating of the food and flowers we grow.
Click here to enroll in Divinum Auxilium's Montessori Primary Program, or to schedule a visit to the school, or to ask further questions please contact us.